Fiction Friday: Gladwynn Grant Gets Her Footing Excerpt

Okay, guy, seriously, I actually thought I was going to only show paid subscribers to my newsletter chapters of my new book — like I was famous or something.

Please, have a good laugh with me.

What was I thinking?

I’m just a mom writing books mainly for fun and tossing them up on Kindle and Amazon. I am not someone people are going to pay a monthly subscription to read and that is totally okay. I am not there yet and may never be. All good.

It doesn’t bother me. All that being said, though, if you want regular updates on my writing (like twice a month updates), you can sign up for my Substack newsletter and you might want to do it now to enter a giveaway I am running. The giveaway is for a book called Meant to Bee by Storm Shultz.

You don’t have to be a paid subscriber to enter the giveaway. Honestly? I don’t think I’m going to offer paid subscriptions right now. What do I have to offer that someone would pay regularly for? Nothing — yet anyhow. *wink*

You can sign up for my Substack account and find out about the newsletter here:

And now, if you’d like a sneak peek of Gladwynn Grant Gets Her Footing, you can find it here today in this post. Without further ado – the first chapter of my next book. Will I share more? I don’t know yet. We shall see. *wink*

Chapter 1

“Hey new girl. Grab a notebook and let’s go. We’ve got a one vehicle MVA on Darby Hill.”

Gladwynn Grant heard the voice but when she looked over her shoulder her new boss had already disappeared back into the hallway.


Wait. What did MVA stand for again?

Gladwynn Grant racked her brain, trying to remember the meaning of the acronym.

The M wasn’t murder, was it?


She fumbled through her top desk drawer for a reporter’s notebook and pen, wincing when the edge of a paper sliced into the skin of her index finger.

“New girl, come on.”

She looked, but, once again, he disappeared.

“Be right there.”

Messy? No. That wasn’t it.

She stood, slammed her knee off the metal drawer of the desk and bit her lower lip to keep from crying out. Outside the window to her right, snow flurries swirled against a dark gray sky.

It came to her as she reached for her winter coat on the back of her chair.

M was for motor.

MVA. Motor Vehicle Accident. That was it.

“Chop. Chop. This will be good training for you.”

Right. Good training for the job she hadn’t even wanted but needed since she’d been laid off from her last job.

“Beggars can’t be choosers,” her mother always said, a line she hated hearing growing up and hated even more as an adult.

Training for her new job in the middle of a snowstorm on a rural highway at dusk wasn’t exactly what she’d expected when she’d accepted the job as a reporter at the Brookville Beacon. She thought she’d be shown the ropes slowly, overtime – maybe handed a few lightweight stories to write first. Instead, it was clear she was to be thrown into the fire right off the bat.

She quickly yanked on her coat, a red vintage-style one she’d found at a thrift shop a couple of years ago, flipped up the hood, and shoved the pen and notebook in the large inside pocket. Snatching a pair of red leather gloves off the top of the bare desk, she rushed to follow editor Liam Finley down the dimly lit hallway toward the back door. A gust of frigid wind smacked her in the face as it opened.

She hoped rushing outside in raging snowstorms wouldn’t be something she’d have to do often.

Biting the inside of her cheek, she stepped out into the cold.

She took two steps at a time to keep up with the long strides of the man in front of her.

He looked over his shoulder as snow whipped around them. “We’ll take my car. Did you grab a camera?”

“Oh. No. I’ll —”

“Go back and grab one. I’ll meet you up front.”

Darting back through the snow she pulled the hood tight in front of her face, icy flakes still managing to bite at her skin. She was out of breath when she rushed back into the office, weaving through the cubicles to retrieve the camera she’d been given the day before. She didn’t make eye contact with her co-workers as she rushed back out the back door.

“Good luck, newbie,” a man’s voice called after her.

She was even more out of breath by the time she reached the parking lot, the camera clutched against her chest. Snow fell in sheets around her. Opening the passenger door of the tan BMW she flopped into the front seat, breathing hard as melting snow dripped from her hair into her eyes. The windshield was a blur of white.

Liam shifted the car into gear and yanked it out onto the empty street. “I hope it’s a fatal. We need a centerpiece.”

Wiping snow from her face she looked at her new boss with wide eyes. His unshaven appearance made him look older than he probably was. Dark hair hung long across his forehead, just above dark brown eyes framed by dark, and remarkably long, eyelashes. Small lines creased the skin next to his eyes.

He glanced at her and lifted a shoulder. “What? We don’t have any art for page one.”


He shifted the car into a lower gear as snow piled up on the road. “A photo or graphic for the centerpiece.”


He sighed. “The main story on the front page. What are they teaching in colleges these days? I thought you’d have learned this stuff at the college newspaper.”

He seemed to have forgotten she hadn’t worked at a college newspaper for almost seven years at this point.

Liam was driving at what she felt was an unsafe speed considering the conditions and the fact they were on their way to an accident caused by those same conditions. He reached over and tapped a couple buttons on the dashboard. Warmth rushed up under her and she let out a small gasp, then realized the seats were heated. She hadn’t picked that feature when she’d purchased her car two years ago.

“You okay over there?”

Her cheeks burned with embarrassment. “Yep. Totally fine.”

Liam flicked the high beams on. Even though the sun hadn’t set yet, the snow was making it seem darker out. “When we get there, you take the photos and I’ll do the talking. Watch what I do so you’ll know what to do next time.”

She nodded.

Next time.

On her own.

That should be interesting.

She didn’t know what she’d been thinking taking this job. It was nothing like she’d expected.

She’d applied for it after the college had laid her off from her job at the library. She’d needed the money to pay off her college loans.

Well, that and the cute red Miata she’d bought when she thought the library job was going to be long term. Good thing she hadn’t opted for the heated seats.

The ad on the job site had caught her eye, not really because of the job itself, but because of where it was located.

Brookville, Pennsylvania – where her grandmother lived alone in a massive Victorian house. Two hundred miles away from where she’d grown up with her parents and, more importantly, 200 miles away from Bennett Steele.

“You’re a quiet one, Grant.” Liam’s voice broke through her thoughts. “What’d you do before you came here again?”

Clearly, he had not read her resume at all. She had a feeling all he’d wanted was a warm body to fill the vacancy.

She rubbed her gloved hands together and blew into them. “Library assistant for Brock College. They laid me off a couple months ago.”

“From librarian to a reporter. This must be cultural shock to you.”

She glanced at him then back at the steadily whiter road in front of them. “Yeah, a little. I’m sure I’ll get used to it.”

She doubted her own words.

In the last week every idea she’d had of what a reporter actually did had been shattered beyond recognition. Sure, she knew she’d be expected to attend municipal meetings and community gatherings and write a story about them, but now she knew she was also expected to take the photographs, proof her co-workers stories, and sometimes answer the phones at the front desk if the receptionist needed to leave for lunch or to pick up her kids from school. Smalltown newspapers were nothing like the larger ones portrayed in movies and books.

She hadn’t interacted much with Liam yet, other than her brief interview and a brief staff meeting the day before, but she’d already pegged him as someone who lived mainly for his job and wasn’t afraid to push the envelope when it came to succeeding at it.

Flashing red and blue lights cut through the fog and snow up ahead. Emergency vehicles were parked in the middle of the road and off to the side near the guardrails.

Liam smoothly pulled his car behind a black truck with a blue flashing light on top. Through a space between a fire truck and an ambulance she could see a bright red car on its roof and behind it a blue SUV dented in the front and part way off the road.

A state trooper turned as they approached the scene, hands at his waist. “You need to stay back.”

His voice was deep and made Gladwynn, who had never considered herself timid, want to say “yes, sir” and dash back to Liam’s car.

Liam, however, didn’t seem bothered. He tipped his head in a curt nod. “Of course. My reporter here just needs some photos. She can stand back here to get them. Can you provide a few details on the accident? I heard entrapment on the scanner. Can you confirm that?”

The trooper merely held up his hand. “You’ll need to step back there, sir. Only emergency responders past this point.”

Liam ignored the trooper and raised his hand to greet one of the firemen walking toward them. “Justin! Hey! How you doing? Bad night out here, huh?”

The firefighter nodded solemnly, and Gladwynn noticed the word chief emblazoned on the yellow helmet on his head. “It is. I can’t talk now but call me later and I can give you some details. One injury so far.”

“And I’m sure I can call the barracks later for a report?” Liam smiled at the trooper as he walked around him toward the ambulance.

The trooper’s eyes narrowed, jaw tightening, but he didn’t move to stop Liam. “Sure.”

Liam raised an imaginary camera to his eye. Glawynn nodded and began taking photographs, glad she’d kept up her photography hobby over the years. When her foot slipped after a few shots, she thought she was going down but a hand under her elbow steadied her. She looked up at a firefighter with bright blue eyes and a broad, friendly smile.

He let go of her elbow and looked at her feet. “Not the best shoes for this weather.”

His accent was thick. Clearly Irish. What was an Irishmen doing in Brookville?

She glanced at her high-heeled boots. Her grandmother had said the same thing. “Yeah, I need to start carrying winter boots with me.”

The firefighter winked as he turned to walk away. “It’d be a good idea.”

Liam stood next to the ambulance talking to another firefighter. Radio chatter and the purr of engines served as background noise to the voices of the responders and eventually a call for a backboard. Gladwynn stepped back, lifting the Cannon to snap a few shots as the firemen kneeled next to the car.

A dark green glove blocked her view. “No photos of victims.”

A different, less friendly, and less attractive, firefighter stood before her with a scowl.

She swallowed hard. “Yeah. Sure. No problem.”

He turned his back toward her, standing more squarely in front of her as if to get his point across. Lowering the camera, she stepped to her right and looked over his shoulder in time to see Liam walking toward her, hands shoved in his coat pockets.

He nodded his head toward his car and walked past her. She assumed that meant he wanted her to follow her. At this point she’d rather be at home curled up under a blanket with a book and a cup of blueberry tea sweetened with a healthy helping of honey.

“No fatality but still good art with that car on its hood,” he said as she fell in step with him. “Did you get some good shots?”

“Um, yeah, I think so.”

“Bart tried to stop you, didn’t you?”

“Well, yes, but I —”

“Big buffoon thinks he can tell us how to do our jobs. Those state police don’t help matters either. They cover all the little towns and townships without a police force, which is most of the county these days, and act like they are the gatekeepers of all information at an emergency scene.”

He slid into the driver side and slammed the door closed.

She pulled the passenger side door closed gently and blew into her hands again. The gloves were stylish, but definitely not warm. “Does Brookville still have a police department?”

He nodded. “A small one, yes. A chief and two officers. They handle mainly small crimes like break ins or jaywalking right in town. The staties get called in for everything else.” He leaned over and ran his fingers over the heater buttons again. This time Gladwynn was ready. “First, lesson, Grant. We work for our readers. It’s our job to get the story, even if you have to push a little to do it. If we have to go through a couple arrogant volunteer fire fighters or cops to do our jobs, then so be it.” He looked at her. “Got it?”

She nodded slowly, wishing she felt the confidence he obviously had.

He took the camera from her and flipped through the photos on the screen. “Not bad. We’ve got at least four good shots.”

Handing the camera back, he backed the car up until he could turn it around and head back toward the office. He held his phone to his ear as he drove, but didn’t slow down, despite the fact even more snow had fallen since they’d arrived on scene.

“Ed, hey. We’ve got a centerpiece shot for the front. Horizontal, four columns.”

He slid his finger over the end button and tossed the phone into the center console. “We should be able to craft a story together when we get back. I’ll have you contact the state police in about half an hour and see if they have some information for us. You can send me what you find out and I’ll add it to the story.”

He moved the car into the opposite lane, shifted the car into a higher gear and passed a car moving slowly along the snow-covered highway. Gladwynn gripped the door handle and pressed herself back into the seat.  In that moment, wondering if she’d be the next person being pulled from an upside down vehicle, she desperately missed her previous job where she’d spent most days inside a building, searching the online catalogue for books for college students.

Her legs threatened to give out from under her when she stepped out of the BMW and made her way to the office.

Pulling her gloves off she flopped into the black padded office chair sitting in front of a computer on a gray counter acting as a desk within the restricting confines of a cubicle with light-red walls.

Hushed voices hummed on the other side of cubicle, an occasional laugh filtering through.

“Do you think she wears her hair like that all the time?”

“You mean the 1940s quaff? What year does she think it is anyhow?”

“Quaff? Where did you even get that word?”

“I have no idea. I probably read it in a book somewhere.”

“You read books?”

“Stuff it, Dibble.”

“What? I thought all you had time for was walking the old ball and chain’s dogs.”

“Rick isn’t my ball and chain. He’s –”

“Just a friend. I know. That’s what you say anyhow.”

The ring of a phone interrupted the banter. Gladwynn touched a hand to her hair.

Quaff? First off, that word didn’t mean what that woman thought it meant. The word the woman had been looking for was coif. Second, Gladwynn had been wearing her hair this way for years. She thought it was unique, something that harkened back to the 40s or 50s, two decades she could imagine herself living in. It was a style that was actually coming back in in the college town she’d been living in.

A ding notified her she had a text message and a look at the lock screen made her forget about how she’d been being talked about behind her back.

“Glad, love: Won’t be home for din. Have a date. There’s a casserole in the fridge. Love, Gram.”

A date?

Gladwynn couldn’t help but let out a small laugh.

She really shouldn’t be surprised that Lucinda Florence Grant had a date at the age of 70. The woman had always been full of spunk.

While Gladwynn ’s grandfather had been the love of Lucinda’s life, the chance for Lucinda to find new love, of a different kind, was one even he would have welcomed.

Gladwynn looked at the small clock on the wall above her cubicle. Two more hours and her shift would be over. She couldn’t wait. A small pain had started pulsating behind her right eye on the drive back and hadn’t let up yet. Her feet were also begging for a break from her impractical boots.

“Hey, new girl. Where’s the card for your camera? I need that photo.”

A man with dark-rimmed glasses, dark hair and eyes and a round face appeared around the edge her cubicle.

Liam had introduced him the day before as Tom Fitzgerald, the photography expert, layout person and all around tech guy. She jumped slightly at the unexpected sound of his voice.

“Sheesh. You’re a little jumpy aren’t you?”

She opened the compartment for the camera card with shaky hands and handed it to him. “Yeah, I guess. Sorry about that.”

He grinned as he took the card. “Don’t worry. You’ll get used to the craziness around here pretty quick.”

He disappeared again and she was left in silence, other than the click of fingers on keyboards drifting from the other cubicles in the office.

Above her, a fluorescent light blared white-blue light onto her and made her wish she had a pair of sunglasses. In front of her, a phone that looked like it belonged in a museum made her question if she’d walked into a time warp by moving to this town.

She dialed the number Liam had given her for the state police barracks, summoning up the confidence she’d possessed in her job at the library.

“State Police Brookville, Corporal Baxter speaking.”

The woman’s voice was stern and void of any friendliness.

“Yes, hello. I’m looking for a –” Gladwynn shuffled hurriedly through her notes for the name of the officer at the scene of the accident. “Officer Kinney to ask about an accident on Route 88 tonight.”


“Excuse me?”

“This is the state police. Their titles are troopers not officer.” Corporal Baxter put strong emphasis on the words “not” and “officer”.

Gladwynn took a deep breath and rolled her eyes. “Excuse me. Is Trooper Kinney in?”

“He is not.”

“Will he be in later so I can ask him a few questions about the – “

“His shift ended ten minutes ago. He’ll be back tomorrow around 2.”

“Oh. Okay, well, is there anyone else I could ask about the accident?”

“We’ll send a brief out when the investigation is complete.”

“Oh. Well, th—”

The click was loud in Gladwynn ’s ear and she held the phone back from her head with a wince.

“New girl. What’s the verdict? You have some info from the staties for me?”

Was it normal for everyone in this office to simply appear out of nowhere around the wall of her cubicle? And did any of them know her real name?

She turned in her chair to face Liam. “No. They said the trooper had left for the day and would be back tomorrow.”

Liam rolled his eyes. “Typical.” He handed her a slip of paper. “I figured that would happen so here’s the fire chief’s number. His name is Justin. Give him a call and see what details he can give you, then come in my office and will hammer this out together.”

He disappeared again.

The fire chief wasn’t home, according to a woman who Gladwynn guessed to be his wife. Gladwynn gave the woman the number taped to the ancient telephone and turned her attention to the police briefs Liam had assigned her to work on earlier in the day. Most of them seemed routine – a couple drinking and driving arrests, a few minor car accidents, but then there was one that made her snort a quick laugh.

Subject arrested driving a John Deere lawn mower along Drew Avenue. When pulled over, the officer noticed a strong odor of alcohol emanating from the subject. Subject was asked to step off the lawn mower and subsequently failed a sobriety test. Subject stated his license had been suspended for DUI two months earlier. Subject relayed he was on his way to the Iron Horse for what he called a nightcap.

Time of arrest: 10 a.m.

She’d visited her grandparents in Brookville many times over the years, even spending a couple summers with them. She’d met characters during those visits who very well could have been the individual involved in this particular incident.

Nestled in mountains which were actually hills by the official definition, Brookville was tiny, with a population of maybe 6,000. Scattered around it were small villages of populations of anywhere from 50 to 100 people, spreading out until farmland ran into a bigger town 30 miles away with a population of 10,000. The Brookville Beacon was named after the town, but its coverage area encompassed the entire county.

The town she’d grown up in in New York had been four times the size of Brookville, but still had some small town elements as well. Nothing like Brookville, though, where it wasn’t uncommon to see a farmer driving a tractor down Main Street on his way to a fellow relative’s farm.

Half an hour later the phone rang and the man on the other end introduced himself as Justin Dreward, the Brookville Fire Chief.

“So, you’re the new girl?”

At this point she should just legally change her name to New Girl.

“Gladwynn Grant, yes.”

“Gwendolyn? What a nice name. You related to Granny Grant?”

Gladwynn laughed. “If you mean Lucinda Grant, then, yes, I am. She’s my grandmother. But my name is actually Gladwynn.”

“Oh. Sorry about that. Your grandmother was my sixth grade teacher. Everyone thought she was mean, but she was the best teacher I ever had. Helped me with my reading when no one else did. I never held it against her that she put me in the corner that one day. I deserved it.”

“I deserved it when she did it to me too.”

It was Justin’s turn to laugh. “Okay, so details on the accident, right?”

“Yep, if there are any you can give me.”

“I can give you a few, but the main report will come from the state police. They are the main investigators on scene. I can tell you that it happened around 5:30. It was one vehicle going at a high rate of speed in slushy conditions. It went off the road, hit an embankment and flipped onto its roof. One occupant, the driver. She had to be cut out of the car. I don’t have any details on her condition, and I’m not allowed to give out names.”

“That’s fine. That will give me a little to go on at least. More than the state police.”

Justin snorted. “Yeah. That’s true most of the time. They’re pretty hard to get any information from. A lot of good guys but they do live up to that nickname of Gray Gods sometimes.”

“Okay, well thank you Mr. – “

Justin laughed. “Don’t call me mister anything. I’m just Justin. About the accident, though — I don’t know if it was just the weather. Ellory said something as they were loading her into the ambulance about her brakes not working.”


“Ellory Banks. She’s the manager of Citizens Bank downtown and on every board and in every organization you can imagine. Hey, wait. Don’t put her name in there unless you get it from the staties.  Identification of victims can’t come from emergency responders. State and federal laws and all that. You know what? You’d better keep that whole brake thing off the record too. She hit her head pretty hard and her brother is a local mechanic. He might take offense to that since he probably does all the work on her car.”

Gladwynn wrote Ellory’s name down, circled it and wrote “off the record” next to it.

She thanked Justin again, hung up, and took her notepad with her to Liam’s office for a crash course on how to write a news story.

11 thoughts on “Fiction Friday: Gladwynn Grant Gets Her Footing Excerpt

  1. Pingback: Fiction Friday: Gladwynn Grant Gets Her Footing Chapter 5 | Boondock Ramblings

  2. Pingback: Fiction Friday: Gladwynn Grant Gets Her Footing Chapter 4 | Boondock Ramblings

  3. Pingback: Fiction Friday: Gladwynn Grant Gets Her Footing Chapter 3 | Boondock Ramblings

  4. Pingback: Fiction Friday: Gladwynn Grant Gets Her Footing Chapter 2 | Boondock Ramblings

  5. Whew, I’m glad I never went into journalism! I really felt for Gladwynn; what a crazy experience after having worked in a probably much calmer library. Great start to what sounds like a really interesting novel!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Pingback: Sunday Bookends: He Has Risen! And other less important stuff | Boondock Ramblings

  7. I love this already, Lisa! I’m so glad you are offering some of it here too! Your honesty and realness are such a blessing to me–especially when I’m having a high pain flare. Thank you for lifting my heart tonight.

    Liked by 1 person

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